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Congolese rebels release security contractor

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Juma Contena, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. Juma Contena

    Juma Contena JF-Expert Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Joined: May 21, 2009
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    Congolese rebels release security contractor

    By Katrina Manson in Nairobi

    A South African security contractor taken hostage by Congolese rebels has been released, according to the oil company with the rights to the block in which he was abducted.

    “He has been released, he is back in our office in Rutshuru, he is unharmed, he is fine, so we’re delighted,” Roger Cagle, chief financial officer and deputy chief executive of FTSE-listed Soco International told the Financial Times late on Wednesday.

    Congolese rebels in the troubled east of the country, where more than 1.4m people have been displaced following years of fighting, attacked a security convoy contracted by Soco on Monday, burning one vehicle.

    At least two workers including an expatriate escaped and were picked up by United Nations peacekeepers in the bush the next morning.

    A UN mission spokesman based in the east who had just returned from Ruthsuru confirmed the release of the captive. “I can confirm that at 18.00 this evening he was released,” Alexandre Essome, spokeman for the UN mission MONUSCO in Goma, a town in the east, told the FT. “There was no concession whatever.”

    Mr Essome said there was no information about whether the rebels had shot dead several members of the Congolese security forces at the time of the attack, as military officials reported, or about the fate of a member of the Congolese army who was also taken captive by the rebel group.

    Mr Cagle said the South African national worked for Demining Enterprises International, a South African security outfit. “We were very concerned,” said Mr Cagle of the kidnapping, adding he did not know the identity of the rebel group concerned. “But then he was allowed to make a call, then more calls and we got relaxed as time went on.”

    A rebel breakaway comprising two splinters from one-time rival groups is thought to be behind the attack, known to the UN mission as FDLR-Soki.

    Soco’s Block 5 is part of the Albertine Graben that borders Uganda, and where more than barrels of oil so far uncovered alongside the border. Operator Soco’s majority partner in Block 5, AIM-listed Dominion Petroleum, is also operator for the Ugandan block on the other side of the border.

    Mr Cagle said that improving communications networks, along with maintaining armed security, will be a necessity in the area. The block includes part of Virunga National Park, where ten workers have been killed by rebels in the past four weeks.